YOU DON’T SAY
Forget pictures, sometimes silence is worth a thousand words. There was a lot of loud silence in the sports world yesterday.
Nowhere was the silence louder than in Brazil, where president Dilma Rousseff had nothing to say. In fact, she didn’t even show up for the annual FIFA assembly of 209 member nations in advance of the World Cup Soccer Tournament. It’s customary for the president of the host nation to address the gathering but Rousseff appeared bent on avoiding FIFA president Sepp Blatter, sending Brazil’s sports minister to speak on her behalf.
Rousseff’s silence not only spoke loudly about her strained relationship with Blatter and FIFA over her country’s sad state of readiness for hosting the premier sporting event in the world, it also spoke legions about the political climate in Brazil, where, as a result of unfinished facilities, questions about missing money, ongoing labor strife with mass transit workers and less than fully operational airports, her approval rating has plummeted with an October election looming. “The less she appears at this point”, mused one Brazilian political analyst, “the better.”
Derek Fisher was quite verbose yesterday on being named the first head coach of the New York Knicks under new team president Phil Jackson. Fisher had a lot to say at his introduction as the successor to Mike Woodson, but it was those little things he left to speak for themselves between the lines that spoke volumes.
“I have not been a head coach in the NBA, college or high school, but I am experienced”, Fisher said in addressing the primary issue surrounding his hiring, that of his lack of experience as a coach. “I have experience in playing the game and being a champion.”
It wasn’t a great surprise that Jackson selected a coach with no experience. His first choice, the one that got away, accepting a contract nearly identical to the one Fisher got with the Knicks, Steve Kerr, also had no coaching experience, but both are Jackson proteges, Fisher playing for Jackson with the Lakers, and he says he has no qualms about his new boss being hands on. “I want Phil involved”, said Fisher about the day to day approach to running the team, “We have a transition to make from being coach-player to executive-coach. We have some learning to do from that respect.”
Age and health issues led Jackson to give up the coaching reins of the Lakers, where he actually floated a co-coaching idea by the Buss family, which wasn’t willing to risk it. Jackson thought he could be the head coach, coaching the games at home in a mentoring relationship with a surrogate who wouldn’t mind having his shoulder watched over for the opportunity to be the head coach on the road, which would limit the amount of traveling required of Jackson. The silence Fisher left between the lines yesterday left the impression that in the Knicks and James Dolan Jackson found a team and an owner willing to give his new coaching philosophy a test run for what could become a transitional coaching wave of the future.
As they used to say to open that game show that ran on NBC and ABC in the 60’s and 70’s, “It not what you say that counts, it’s what you don’t say.”
There was a lot of loud silence and a lot left between the lines yesterday. It made for compelling commentary.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.